A House of One's Own:
Elizabeth Bishop in Key West
Above: Elizabeth Bishop, likely in Key West. Below: Bishop and Louise Crane.
R: Bishop sunning on steps, presumably in Key West.
Bishop's former home at 624 White Street in Key West.
Excerpts from the play, all in Bishop’s voice:
SCENE 1: “Key West would be such a nice town to stay in…. it has what I need: ‘peace and quiet’.”
SCENE 2: “You really do like this beautiful house, don’t you, Louise?... Maybe I’ll put in some Traveler’s Palms out front?”
SCENE 3: “Marianne Moore … got me to leave the capitals off the first word of each line, so I feel very ‘Advanced.’ My work goes as slowly as ever. … The words in my head are just like icebergs or rocks, or awkwardly-placed furniture. I feel if I could just joggle them around long enough, maybe something electrical might arrange them.”
“If I can get enough writing done … I can face my New York friends.”
SCENE 4: “Marjorie, you are truly wonderful to invite me to stay with you. … I simply can’t work at my house. … And my friends are so sick of my incoherent late night calls. …
SCENE 5: “I have finally scraped together enough…to buy Louise’s share of the house. … I do love it, but it is such a nuisance. … Really I must keep traveling.”
SCENE 6: “Oh, Marjorie, … I know how strongly you feel … I should not come back to Key West. … But I just couldn’t stay on in New York…. I have decided to sell the…house. I’ll finally…travel…where I can work. … You won’t come with me… . I do hate to sell that house of mine: I’ve always loved it, whatever its problems, and my own. … I need … a quiet place, with … lots less alcohol.
But I’ll keep traveling—why not South America to visit … that fascinating woman I met … in New York. Anyway, I must keep going, north or south, looking for a house in which to write, and live, and even love.”
R: Marjorie Carr Stevens, Bishop's companion after Louise